It definitely is a challenge maintaining order over a household of seven. And when your kids are home most days, 3 meals x 7 people of dishes, our projects, shoes + coats, and stuff can easily build up everywhere.
After putting my whole heart and summer into "tidying" our home the Marie Kondo approach ([amazon_link id="1607747308" target="_blank" ]The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing[/amazon_link]), I've been quite strict that we don't fall back into our "cluttered" ways.
I have 3 tricks that have worked in keeping that order in every room of our house. And helps keep peace between parent and child, child and child, and the unspoken calm from living in an inspiring, orderly home.
- Constantly remind all family members that everything has a home, a pre-established place to return all items after they have been used, played with, read, etc.
This simple reminder not only immediately gives the family members a visual of the location that the item needs to be returned to but doesn't require nagging. It empowers the person to take responsibility to walk their book back over to the bookcase, put their shoes in the shoe closet, and put the yogurt back in the refrigerator.
This one concept resolves 80% of the clutter/untidiedness in our home. My kids know very well that the more they are responsible for their items throughout the day, the less clean up there will be at the end of the day when they are responsible for one room in the house.
2. Create charts for those household tasks that tend to a) wear you out or b) wear you out in routinely asking your kids to do them.
The functioning charts we have in our home currently are:
- Dishwasher Days Chart (see below) where two kids are teamed up each morning to unload while the other two kids practice piano.
- Daily Tidying Chart that simply outlines each child being responsible for the tidying (vacuuming + sweeping if necessary) of one main-level room each day. Rooms are rotated weekly.
- Chef of the Day + Kitchen Helper chart (in first image). It is an extension of our chef for the day (one child that helps cook/bake that day with me) with the addition of wiping off the dining table after meals and helping with meal clean up that day too.
Charts give my kids and myself direction which is so important in building confidence and establishing lifelong routines of important work.
3. Establish daily "rhythms" and routines for your kids and your family.
It took a little time, but now my kids know that breakfast is "ready" once their morning jobs are completed. (They each have a binder with these great responsibility pages from Modern Parents Messy Kids inside plastic page protectors so they can check them off each morning with a dry erase marker.)
Having everyone dressed, with beds made, kids' clean clothes from outside their door put away, dishwasher unloaded or piano practiced before breakfast has made life so much easier! We can then all settle in for a morning spiritual thought and prayer before everyone splits off in different directions.
Why? Because we can get out the door faster right after breakfast and teeth brushed. We can start into our own projects and play right after breakfast without the nagging. (Realistically, there still is some of that. ;)) And, they know the routine and it gives them confidence knowing they are totally ready for the day.
Those are 3 of our tricks that really do allow for fun and creativity and learning during the day without feeling constantly overwhelmed by chaos. My kids feel the difference when we've followed through with "maintaining" our home and I'm much more calm and helpful to my kids when there is peace and order.
Days are happier, more peaceful, and definitely smoother when we stay focused on maintaining the most important place for the kids and adults alike: the home.
the sleepy time gal